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A French court ordered Russian oligarch Suleyman Kerimov to post 40 million euros in bail on Wednesday morning, during an investigation into alleged massive tax fraud and money-laundering linked to the purchase of luxury villas on the Côte d’Azur.

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Prosecutors had asked for Kerimov to be detained as they continue their investigation.

The court rejected that call but set the bail high, a wise move given that Kerimov is a billionaire.

He left the court, surrounded by his own bodyguards, without making any comment.

Born in Dagestan, Kerimov represents the Caucasus republic in the Russian Federation Council and his arrest at Nice airport last month provoked an angry response from President Vladimir Putin’s government.

At the time he was ordered to post five million euros’ bail, had to surrender his Russian passport and was ordered not to leave the Alpes-Maritime region.

Five luxurious villas

Kerimov is suspected of laundering money and dodging millions of euros in taxes when he bought five villas on the Cap d’Antibes under somebody else’s name.

A large part of the payments is believed to have been made in cash, sometimes coming from Switzerland or Monaco, while a lower price was declared to the authorities.

Nice public prosecutor Jean-Michel Prêtre on Monday put the money concealed by the operations at 500-750 million euros.

Four out of the five villas have been seized, the other having been resold.

A total of 13 people have been charged in the course of the investigation, which started in 2014.   Read more